Leopard Creek

Leopard Creek, one of the top courses in the country, will play host to the Alfred Dunhill Championship for the ninth consecutive year with players from both the European and Sunshine Tours will be looking to navigate the tough Gary Player design for a share of the €1,5-million prize purse.

Innovative architectural and landscaping techniques ensure that the Leopard Creek golf course and living areas are naturally protected from animals, while lakes and small streams have been diverted through the development to create scenic vistas and interesting golf strategies.

Golfing hazards take on a new dimension at Leopard Creek, for much of the water is home to the magnificent creatures for which the river is named, crocodiles. Extensive use has been made of water features and sightings of crocodile, hippo, antelope, buffalo and wild boar are commonplace, either on the course itself or in or next to the river running alongside several holes.

Hole 1: Par 4, 385 metres
A hole that plays slightly uphill from tee to green, making a dogleg to the left with three protecting bunkers on either side of the dogleg. The bunkers also provide a frame of reference for the tee shot. The landing area is generously wide for golfers starting on the 1st tee.

A narrow stream guards the right and the front of a very long two-tiered green with mounding at the back. A deep bunker on the left provides good definition.

Hole 2: Par 5, 470 metres
The second hole is one of the easier par 5’s on the course, which gently slopes down towards the green, but beware the golfer who tends to fade the ball – three bunkers the landing areas to the right of the fairway. Through reachable in two (for the longer hitters), supreme accuracy is required on the second shot.

The green is long and interestingly shaped and is bunkered on both sides in the front. The back part of the green is very narrow with no supporting mound. Only pinpoint accuracy to this part of the green will result in a birdie.

Hole 3: Par 4, 410 metres
An intimidating tee shot, with a series of bunkers on the left and trees to the right. The longer the tee shot, the narrower the landing area becomes. The approach shot should be ideally from right to left, since the green is slightly angled across the line of play. A small stream cuts through the fairway 50m short of the green and continues down along the left side of the green. A single deep bunker protects the left edge of the green. Take heed, this hole commands respect.

Hole 4: Par 4, 390 metres
The tee shot is slightly uphill and makes a sharp left from the landing area. A large desert like bunker on the inside of the dogleg is positioned to encourage golfers to carry it, resulting in a shorter approach into the green. The large sloping green has a dangerous bunker guarding the right hand side. The hole rewards the adventurous golfer, who takes a chance, but the hole is not finished until the ball is in the cup, take this advice – leave yourself an uphill putt.

Hole 5: Par 3, 150 metres
A horseshoe tee offers many angles into a green protected by water on the left and two deep bunkers on the right. To save par, the green must be hit in regulation. A wayward tee shot will result in a bogey or worse!

Hole 6: Par 4, 292 metres
A short par 4, which is drivable for the long hitter. The safer approach would be to “lay up” in front of the bunker to set up a short pitch shot into the green. Bunkers on the left and in the front of the green compel the golfer to judge the second shot to perfection.

Hole 7: Par 3, 197 metres
A lake on the right and a bunker on the left, protect and frame this hole. With a variety of tee positions and a large green, allows a long iron or fairway wood to be used, but beware the “bogey man” that lurks on this part of the course.

Hole 8: Par 4, 439 metres
A long, daunting par 4, which off the back is long enough to be classified as a par 5. The fairway has extensive bunkers right and left and slopes towards the latter. The long green angles up to the left. With a vicious slope on the front left of the green, any slightly pulled shot is doomed to end up in the greenside bunker.

Hole 9: Par 4, 435 metres
The tee shot is downhill and inviting, however, there is a stream down the left hand side of the fairway and two bunkers on the right adjacent to the landing area. The green is surrounded by water on two sides with a pot bunker short left and large bunker long right. The green is wide with a narrow neck towards the back, providing a championship pin position. A dramatic and challenging hole.

Hole 10: Par 4, 456 metres
A hole that plays with a slight dogleg to the left and is well bunkered on either side of the fairway. The bunkers also provide a frame of reference for the tee shot. The green slopes toward the fairway and is two tiered. Bunkers protect left and right side of the green.

Hole 11: Par 4, 343 metres
This par 4 has a variety of tee options. From the back tees it becomes a daunting tee shot, yet off the front, a drivable par 4. A bunker in the centre of the fairway compels the golfer to hit long and straight. Generally the second shot requires a short iron into an elevated green. Any shot that is left short will end up in the front side bunkers both left and right, or in some cases, 30m back down the fairway. An amphitheatre of euphorbia trees backs the green.

Hole 12: Par 3, 176 metres
From the back tee position the golfer has a panoramic view of the course and the Kruger Park. Playing to a green that is significantly lower than the tee and guarded by bunkers front left, right and centre back, challenges the golfer’s judgment and club selection.

Hole 13: Par 5, 505 metres
This hole plays along the contours of the river. Distance and accuracy are essential, as the golfer has to carry a stream to reach the landing area, protected by a bunker on the right. The fairway slopes right to left and any pulled shot is doomed to end up in the creek on the left.

The green hangs out over the edge of the river and is protected by large strategically placed bunkers. From the green, golfers will be amazed by the spectacular views of the adjacent Kruger Park and its abundant wildlife.

Hole 14: Par 4, 378 metres
The tee shot is slightly uphill with the landing area protected on both sides of the fairway. The second shot requires a mid to short iron where the ball has to carry a stream that runs directly in front of the green. One bunker protects the green – centre back.

Hole 15: Par 5, 547 metres
The tee shot is downhill and inviting, however, there is a stream down the left hand side of the fairway and two bunkers on the right adjacent to the landing area. The green is surrounded by water on two sides with a pot bunker short left and large bunker long right. The green is wide with a narrow neck towards the back, providing a championship pin position. A dramatic and challenging hole.

Hole 16: Par 3, 190 metres
From the back tee, the tee shot is all carry to a green, partially set in a large lake. The different tee positions will provide for a variety of tee shots to the green. With judicious positioning of the pin on this green, for example, the golfer playing off the pro tee will face a shot where the pin is surrounded by water on three sides. A bale-out area is provided to the left for the more cautious player.

Hole 17: Par 4, 443 metres
This is one of the most demanding holes on the back nine, playing slightly uphill to the green. Three bunkers protect the right hand side of the landing area. For the average golfer, a long iron or wooden club will be needed for the approach. Deep bunkers are located on the left and right of the two tiered green.

Hole 18: Par 5, 495 metres
This downhill par 5 is bunkered on the left and right of the landing area, catching any errant drives. A terrace area some 200 metres out from the green, facilitates opportunities for the long hitters to go for the green in two. The island green has bunkers left and right with steep sloping banks that will send errant approaches into the surrounding water. The lake is also home to the occasional crocodile.

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